Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
October 03, 2014

Writing Therapy for Peace and Happiness

Writing has helped our columnist weather some of the hardest moments in her life following her divorce. But you don't have to be a professional writer to find the act of writing therapeutic.

by by Jennie M. Xue

Writing brings peace and happiness prior to my recent divorce. And it continues to bring peace and happiness during my recovery process as a therapeutic instrument. Being in and out of depression due to the trauma, I need something I can rely on every single time. And writing is the best choice not because I can write quite well, but because it has been used by therapists to help people heal from depression and other conditions.

Writing gives a sense of purpose to wake up every morning and to turn on my 13-inch MacBook Pro. Writing wouldn’t judge me for my words and decisions, no matter how inconceivable they were to others. Writing accompanies me when the world is gloomy and brings light to dark hours. I find a constant friend in “writing.”

Writing gives an avenue to think with  “what would he/she/it do?” framework. (Note: Replace “he/she/it” with your personal role model.) It gives me a way to express my “alter ego,” which I imagine is someone with reason and who is cool, calm and collected with the will of steel. Perhaps Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, Bionic Woman, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, or even Mother Mary. My mind can wander while also being sharpened for clarity and acceptance.

Writing is the most disciplined form of thinking either in the state of “normal” with or without depression. And just like in the military, discipline gives form to chaos and disorder. It provides a structure that stands firm against strong wind and corrosion. It turns nothingness into something, and feelings and thoughts into strings of words with meanings.

In a depressive state, where even a simple task like inhaling air feels heavy, writing is a sweet distraction. Despite the frequent “writer’s block,” I have been able to type on the keyboard without much effort. JK Rowling gave birth to Harry Potter series when she was in a depressed state following a divorce. And many writers became successful and created their best works while writing in depressive state, like Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.

Auto-writing, courtesy of speedy ten fingers, often takes over my blank mind. They allow me to write creatively and therapeutically.  Intertwined. And I’m so grateful for them and my keyboarding instructor at San Diego Community College.

So, how can writing help a depressed individual?

If you can create a thesis statement, or a “premis,” and develop it into an outline, which is the skeleton of a piece of writing, then you’re a disciplined thinker, already. The outline can be easily filled out with descriptions, arguments, and analyses. Voila, a piece is done. It is structured, creative, and therapeutic.

Writing structure is an instrument of control, which was not present when traumatic incidents occured. This alone comes with a potent healing quality. I’m learning to trust myself again, that things will eventually turn out fine. Just like this writing.

Finishing another piece of writing means another attempt to heal myself from heartbreak and painful memories, because any tiny accomplishment is a sign of achievement and moving on. And life comprises small victories and minute failures.

Through writing, I was reminded that divorce was just a small fraction of the long history of life’s victories and failures.

Writing is a good way to distract my mind from ruminating over the past. The past is over and the present and tomorrow are more important.

I’m grateful for being here and now before tomorrow comes. And the blank computer screen gives me a reason to be present, so I can fill it with meaningful and (hopefully) publishable words – a sense of control that is always there as long as I need it.

Writing is like an old friend who wouldn’t leave me when I need her the most. It’s loyal and unshaken, even when my whole world crumbles around me. When jotting down my thoughts, I reflect about myself and my surrounding and about what and how I treat and was treated by others.

I learn more about my hidden self through writing. The side that I didn’t even know exist.

Having works published is a way for me to share my pain with the world. Perhaps readers can relate with my story and can help with their self-healing process. And I’m grateful for having great readers who give me their feedbacks on how my writing affects them. It’s a privilege and an honor to touch people’s lives with words and by sharing life events.

Writing brings peace and happiness just for being a beloved activity and for the positive feelings it brings in the healing process. When I’m typing on my MacBook Pro, I know that I have some control on the outcome. And if I put more of my mind into it, a slightly bigger victory would result.

Today and tomorrow, I’m grateful for writing and maintaining my sanity to continue writing. A short piece of writing is a small triumph, Nonetheless.

Small victories combined will result in a gigantic one. And I’m getting ready for it. One word at a time.

Jennie M. Xue is an award-winning author and columnist based in Northern California. Her blog is JennieXue.com (http://www.jenniexue.com). Follow @jenniemariaxue on Twitter.